Friday, April 13, 2012

Goodbye Pumping

This post has been waiting for me to finish it since September 2009.

I started pumping the day the kids were born and pumped until the were 13 months old. I continued nursing Jaileigh until she was 22 months and Annie was born. I am currently still nursing Annie and hoping that she is going to wean soon.

I wanted to document my pumping a little bit. I was a milk cow! We had to buy two deep freezes to hold all the milk that I pumped. Here is our 2nd one. The first one was just a little chest freezer that was filled right away.

I have always been a firm believer in the value of breast milk and always wanted to provide for my children. When I found out I was having quadruplets I panicked at the thought of not being able to provide enough milk for them. I talked to quite a few other moms and they helped put my mind at ease and explained that you could do both, formula and breastmilk. When I delivered the babies and started pumping the nurses at Loma Linda told me I had plenty of milk for all four of the babies. They had never seen anyone with that much milk. I had their full support backing me for pumping/nursing those four little munchkins so I accepted the challenge.

The babies at one month old with 4 of their primary nurses.

What a challenge it was too! Oh my! If I had known how difficult it was going to be I think I would have ran. I am so thankful that I did it though. Looking at how healthy my babies were and are, I know a lot of that was because they received breast milk.

Here is how it was done. Every 2 hours {around the clock} I pumped for 20-30 minutes for 6 months. Then I switched to every 2-3 hours, again around the clock, until they were 11 months old. Then I dropped 1 or 2 pumpings at night. We were still feeding them at night so I was up anyway. At 13 months I only pumped when I felt engorged. I still continued to nurse Jaileigh so the weaning from the pump wasn't too bad. I set my cell phone alarm and we became good friends. If I happened to miss a feeding I would wake up engorged and soaking wet. That didn't happen too often. I was averaging 2-4 hours of broken sleep in a 24 hour period. I would get up to pump 30 minutes before the babies feeding time. It took 1.5 hours to feed them and then I could sleep for another 30-45 minutes. It was BRUTAL!

To keep my milk supply up I drank a TON of water. Every 2 hours I would drink 32 ounces of water. I also ate at least 1 Wendy's large Frosty a day. I hardly ever peed. All of my fluid was being turned into milk. I also bought mother's milk tea and drank that regularly.

I invested in a really, really good pump. The Medela Symphony. I found one on ebay and snatched it up. It helped a ton with my milk production. I used it while the babies were in the NICU and when they all came home I missed it and could see the change in my milk production without it. I bought an invertor so that I could pump in the car. If we had to go to doctor appointments I would pump in the car and then feed the babies when it was time. This was such a lifesaver! We were able to go on so many adventures when I was able to bring the pump along.

Help! I had wonderful, wonderful help. Our church sent the most amazing people to help us. Our door was a revolving door for 9 months but it allowed me to do the things I wanted and needed to do. And through it all we have built the most amazing relationships with some of those people. We have an extended family that we all love.

I do not know how I survived that first year on so little sleep. It was a MIRACLE! There were so many people praying for us, those prayers were holding us up and together.

After reading this and thinking about how stubborn I was I started thinking of other things I did that I can not believe I did. I was so determined to give those babies the same experience as a singleton that I did the impossibles. For example, not one of my babies were ever bottle propped. They were always held and cuddled while they ate. If they were crying they were always picked up and soothed, sung to, burped, rocked or walked. They were always burped after and rocked to sleep. It took a lot of time and effort but it was accomplished. I can now happily say that I have 5 spoiled babies that all think they are singletons.

So if you are reading this and are wondering if it is possible, it is! You can do whatever you set your mind to. Now having said that, I don't know if I would pump like that again. It was so hard. I probably would do it again, just because I am stubborn, but I don't think there is anything wrong with supplementing.

Just a few stats for you math lovers.

Every 2 hours I could pump 20 ozs of milk
Since I was pumping every 2 hours times it by 12 
20 x 12=  240  ozs/day
240 ozs= 1.875 gallons/day

I was pumping almost 2 gallons of milk a day! AMAZING!!!

There is approximately 183 days in 6 months  183 x 1.875g = 343.125 gallons in 6 months.

Just for fun I wanted to see how much 343.125 gallons of milk would cost. Where I live milk is about 3.50 a gallon.  So 3.50 x 343.125 = $1200.94 That is a lot of money! I'm not sure how much formula costs but if it is anywhere near milk that is a lot of money saved!

13 months of pumping = 690 gallons of milk

Time put in to pumping
Months 1-6
Minutes/day= 300m
Hours/day= 5 hrs/day
6 months= 915 hrs

Math for 6-12 months
pumped 9/day X 25/min= 225 m/day = 3.75 hrs X 183 days = 686.25 hrs

Month 13
2.5hrs/day X 30days = 75 hrs

TOTAL hours spent pumping in 13 months = 915 + 686.25 + 75 =
1676.25 hrs of pumping

I don't even know what to say. I never realized how much time I put in nor did I realize how much milk I was pumping. Goodness!


Andrea said...

Ok, I LOVE that you documented this. When I had my twins I felt like such a cow, too. I was bound and determined to feed them breastmilk exclusively. I couldn't get them to latch when they were first born since they were so little so I turned into a "pumper." I pumped every 2 hours and fed every 4 hours for 12 months (except when they were tiny and we fed more often). I always commented that I just didn't know how anyone with even one more baby did it, let alone two more! Here's to you lady...what an accomplishment! And I'm so glad your babes were cuddled and held while feeding, too. So important. You're amazing and yea for those helpers and prayers!!

Sara Ann said...

Holy cow!! Really, you really were a milk cow, that is seriously amazing! Good for you:)

Sara Ann said...

Holy cow!! Really, you really were a milk cow, that is seriously amazing! Good for you:)

Laura said...

You're amazing! I pumped for 12 months and continued nursing until my (singleton) daughter was 15 months. I thought it was rough to wake up once per night to keep up my supply, but you truly are an inspiration!! I applaud you!